MVC basketball: Arch Madness reps trump NET worrying and bracketology studying

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Facebook Email Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Pinterest In Valley life, Arch Madness reps trump NET worries, bracket projections Drake and Northern Iowa meet Saturday in Des Moines. It's another Arch Madness rep for both teams, as well as a chance for some standings movement.

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In Valley life, Arch Madness reps trump NET worries, bracket projections Dargan Southard , Des Moines Register Published 2:56 p.m. CT Feb. 8, 2019 | Updated 3:06 p.m. CT Feb. 8, 2019 CLOSE Ben Jacobson: Solid defensive effort all afternoon Dargan Southard,

CONNECT TWEET LINKEDIN COMMENT EMAIL MORE While much of the college basketball world fawns over bracketologies and NET rankings, life in the Missouri Valley Conference requires no such obsessions.

It’s been clear since about December — and perhaps even earlier — that the Valley will be a one-bid league this year. Therefore, there’s no need to dissect metrics in hopes of at-large consideration or see where the latest projections have the Valley leader. One team is getting in, and March's second weekend will sort it out.

Drake's Noah Thomas dribbles as teammate Nick McGlynn sets a screen on University of Northern Iowa's Spencer Haldeman during Sunday afternoon's game. (Photo: Kelly Wenzel, via Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier / Special to the Register)

In turn for teams such as Drake, Northern Iowa and the rest of the MVC, every night on the floor can be viewed through Arch Madness lenses.

Where are you in the standings? How likely are you to avoid Thursday night? How did a team handle a situation as it pertains to postseason basketball?

Enterprise Center basketball is full of tight moments and tense situations as teams claw to keep seasons alive. At this point, each regular-season scenario — holding onto a late lead, battling back from a rough first half, fighting through an off shooting night and numerous others — is practice for St. Louis.

Another slew of in-game reps comes Saturday for the Panthers (10-14, 5-6 MVC) and Bulldogs (17-7, 6-5), who meet at 5 p.m. in Des Moines. UNI took the first matchup 57-54 on Jan. 13 . That game offered lessons on remaining productive despite offensive woes and staying locked in down the stretch .

Drake and UNI sit just one game apart, but that can feel like a lot in the Valley’s congested standings.

The Panthers are currently in a two-way tie for seventh. The Bulldogs sit in a three-way tie for third. With seven games remaining on everybody’s conference slate, still just four games separates the top from the bottom.

In a Valley year as wide-open as this one, avoiding the dreaded Thursday play-in games — in other words, finishing sixth or better — feels even more important. Winning four games in four days is never a welcomed task. And if all 10 teams truly feel like they have a realistic shot to slice down the St. Louis nets, sidestepping an extra game could make all the difference.

Which is why Saturday is pivotal for both UNI and Drake. Iowa’s two MVC schools are coming off midweek losses and don’t want to see another opportunity slip away. Each loss feels much more damaging in a crowded group

The Bulldogs have been solid in the Knapp Center — a 9-2 mark, including three double-digit wins in conference play. The Panthers, meanwhile, haven’t gotten much done on the road. They’re 1-7 with four straight losses since winning at Bradley on Jan. 2.

MVC Tournament Seeding Probabilities #ArchMadness - February 7 Update:

— Matt Hackman (@mjhackman) February 7, 2019 The above simulations reiterate just how crucial each game left is. Computer data show the Arch Madness seeding probabilities based on 100,000 simulations for the rest of the season. Although Drake and UNI sit one game apart, their outlooks are much different.

The Panthers have an average projected finish of seventh, with a 67 percent chance of playing Thursday night in St. Louis. The Bulldogs have an average projected finish of third, with an 81 percent chance of landing a top four seed. Drake has only a five percent chance of playing Thursday.

Games like Saturday’s will go a long way in determining how the final standings land. That’s the only list worth worrying about in the MVC.

The court, not the computers, will sort out the rest of what matters.

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.

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